Killer Year–The Class of 2007

Down ‘n’ Dirty
February 5, 2007, 9:00 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

I find short stories much harder to write than novels. For me, a short story takes discipline, to stay focused and not stray into the subplots and tangents. You can’t explore the character – you have to stick to the essentials to tell that one story, which is usually just a snapshot of someone’s life.

But I do like writing them. And the one thing I like even better than writing them is seeing them published.

My latest is in Out of the Gutter, a collection featuring some down ‘n’ dirty criminals.
If you like hardboiled, noir, seedy, unpredictable crime fiction, you’ll find a bunch of stories in this issue from the likes of Victor Gishler, JA Konrath, Charlie Stella…
And me.

Great thing about this story is that I wrote four endings, so for a while I really didn’t know how things would turn out. I hope that means that it will keep the reader guessing to the end as well.

It’s available to order online and in select bookstores.

Sandra Ruttan
Author of Suspicious Circumstances
Available For Pre-Order Now
On Life and Other Inconveniences


January 3, 2007, 8:05 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

New Year’s is a pessimist’s nightmare. Everyone’s still reeling with that festive good cheer and happy holidays tra-la-la-ing.
It’s enough to make any real noir writer nauseous. We’ll all be happier a month from now, when the diet resolutions have been broken a thousand times over, the exercise routine that we had all the best intentions of keeping has fallen by the wayside and yes, we are still drinking as much if not more and the new wardrobe we promised ourselves is coming in a size bigger than last year’s.

Life, as it should be.

As I thought about putting up the first post of the new year on this blog, it seemed too appropriate to talk about new beginnings, about hopes and dreams and all the things to look forward to in 2007. You know, like starting the diet, the exercise program, trying to drink less, write more letters, having the book come out, reading more, not calling the fire department on the neighbour’s when they have their burn pit too close to my trees, which would be the reason for target practice and the purchase of a BB gun, celebrating a few book releases…

Thing is, I don’t typically make resolutions. It’s like setting yourself up for failure. Although I suppose that’s a way of feeding a pessimist’s soul – provide yourself with endless opportunities to remind yourself that life hasn’t measured up to hope.

I know this isn’t what people expect to read over here today. It should be all enthusiasm for the forthcoming releases and the fact that finally – yes, finally – 2007 is here. After all, it is what the Killer Year crew have been dreaming of and waiting for for so long.

And I expect you’ll see that from my comrades. But for me, I’m one of these people that hates beginnings. I know a beginning is supposed to be a blank slate with endless possibilities – I read that in a Hallmark card once.

But a beginning is also scary. By the simple fact that things are new and you don’t know what to anticipate.
The past two months have ranged between gut-wrenching and happy – an emotion I do on very odd occasions. These days when I open mail or answer the phone I expect bad news. I couldn’t count the number of friends & family touched by cancer this year on my fingers. How, exactly, do you respond after hearing that and then being asked, “What’s new with you?”

“Oh, my first book is about to come out. Getting some good reviews…”

Yeah, right. It all seems pretty trivial when you’re hearing of another diagnosis, and things don’t look good.

So, the first book is coming out. Yes, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll finally get to hold the finished copy in my hands.

And then life will move on.

There are things that happen in your life that are signs. They tell you if you’re headed in the right direction, or if you need to switch course. Getting a book deal is usually a pretty good sign. Getting good reviews are nice signs too. Getting fan mail is even better, because people are taking the initiative to tell you they like your work.

I’ll be grateful for all those good signs. But I won’t stand still and worship any of them.

As exciting as it is to have a book coming out, it’s onward and upward from here. I already have other manuscripts drafted, some unsold. I have edits to do, and then decisions to make about how to proceed.

I’m working on the early stages of another new book.

I have anthologies to contribute to, a magazine to run, people to interview, a panel to moderate at Left Coast Crime…
While this is a positive time for me, and the achievement of a lifelong dream, recent events have made me mindful of the fact that time doesn’t stand still. There were people who always thought they’d be here to see this day, and now they aren’t. Puts it in perspective for me.

This is just a big step in my journey. A journey that isn’t anywhere near finished. Not if I have anything to say about it.
Speaking of beginnings, today is the birthday of an incredible author, who also happens to be one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. I’d say it in Irish if I knew how, but I don’t. So feliz cumpleaños my dear friend and many many more happy returns.

See, I can do positive! Occasionally… And on that note, America Reads ushered in the new year with my page 69 test, so if you want a bit of sneak peek into the book, you can check it out. My thanks to Marshal for the invitation – he does a fantastic job with that blog, and this is the only place online where you can sneak a peek.

I also want to mention a fantastic post Kevin Wignall has up over at contemporary nomad. Each of you who read those BSP posts I did back in the summer, about what turns readers off and what marketing approaches work, will find Kevin’s post on how far you’re willing to go to promote yourself very interesting. A must read for any debut author as they wrestle with promotional issues.

Sandra Ruttan

Author of Suspicious Circumstances

Available For Pre-Order Now
On Life and Other Inconveniences

A Bottle of Time
November 29, 2006, 9:30 am
Filed under: Sandra Ruttan

An author recently sent me an email, telling me that the weeks following the release of their first book were extremely depressing. All the build-up, all the anticipation… And it was over. The book was out there. Most of the reviews had already come in, so the only question was whether or not readers were buying the book, and if they liked it.

We live in a society that almost demands instant gratification. It’s both the blessing and the curse of the virtual world. Letters no longer need to pass through physical hands and be transported across the miles. Data can be sent through the internet instead, in the blink of an eye. We expect our fast food in five minutes or less. We even have drive-through banking.

The funny thing is, a lot of the process of being published involves waiting. Waiting to get and sign contracts. Waiting to hear from your editor. Waiting to see the final cover design. Waiting for the review copies to be ready. Waiting for the reviews to start coming in…

I hate waiting. I’m not good at it, but that isn’t the only reason. It robs me of a full appreciation for where I am, because the waiting mentality, that niggling part of me that wants to see the next thing happen, keeps part of my focus on the future instead of letting me completely enjoy the present.

I thought about this after Harrogate, back in July. I thought about it after Bouchercon.

I got thinking about it again, yesterday, and this time I decided to turn to some friends. Some debut authors from 2006, other authors more years of experience behind them, and ask about their memorable moments and what they’ve learned through their experiences.

If there was an author moment that you could harness like a ship in a bottle, what would it be? What’s the moment you’d like to preserve and be able to relive forever, or a pivotal moment that made a huge difference for you?

I rank this as one of the best days of my life. My wedding and the birth of my daughter are numbers one and two, but number three is the publication party for Beneath A Panamanian Moon. The invitation read, “12 years, 5 major rewrites, 3 agents, 2 titles and 1 hell of a good reason to party.” Twelve years I’d been working, dreaming of the day I could hold my novel in my hand.

We threw the party at The Blue Bayou in Hillsborough. The bar owner donated food. The Monarchs played for free. Friends brought their instruments and jammed. People came from up and down the coast to raise a glass with me. My daughter sang “At Last” and blew the room away. There were so many people there to help me celebrate that I told my wife it was like being at my own funeral, without having to wear a suit. I’d never felt so rich in all the things that matter.

If I ever publish a second book, I know the party will be great because I’ve made so many writer friends this year and I expect they’ll mix well with the musicians. But I also know it won’t be anything like that first party. It was a day I’ll remember until the day lay me out, suit and all.

David Terrenoire
Author of Beneath A Panamanian Moon.

The moment of my debut year that I would want preserved – the most exciting moment… was actually pre-debut. It was at ThrillerFest, and the amazing fact that writing and getting my first novel published qualified me to sing in the Killer Thriller Band. I guess I’m just a communal kind of girl, but being able to sing and dance in a band of that caliber with authors who have been my idols for years… that was coming home, in a way I’ll never forget.

Well, and also that thing in the stairwell with — (all right, never mind that…)

Alexandra Sokoloff
Author of The Harrowing

The best part of last year for me was the book launch party. I live in a fairly tight-knit neighbourhood in a big city and I know a lot of the people around here. Mostly I know the other people in the schoolyard where I drop off and pick up my kids everyday. They all knew I had a book coming out for a long time – I sold it more than a year before it was published – and were all really supportive. I don’t know if it’s typical, but in my schoolyard there are almost as many stay-at-home Dads as Moms. I’d been asking the other parents questions for years, all kinds of stuff from women’s fashions to money transfer laws and they were remarkably helpful.

So, the night of the book launch, a great spring evening, was a chance for a lot of us to get together at a nice place – without our kids (that’s very important) – and let loose. Usually we all see each other in the schoolyard and are pretty rushed getting our kids home for lunch and back and to all kinds of lessons after school, but at the party we got to just sit around and chat. And eat the free food the publisher supplied.

But what was really great for me was the terrific reception all these people gave me when I got up to read a little and thank them all. They all seemed so happy for me. And for my wife. I mean, for years these people wondered who was married to the weird guy asking the questions. It was a great party.

It was also good to get pretty positive reviews in the Globe and Mail and the National Post on the same day and in the Toronto Star a couple weeks later, and it’s a great feeling the first time you see your book. And the first time you see it in a bookstore.

John McFetridge
Author of Dirty Sweet
Coming in 2007: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

I don’t know if this counts as the most exciting moment, but I think the moment that I was most nervous about that turned out okay was during my first joint signing with Lee Child.

We were at the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, which I had heard so many great things about that just being there was intimidating, much less to be sitting up on a barstool holding a microphone in one hand and a bottle of water in the other in front of a couple of hundred people who were there to see Lee.

He gave me the kindest introduction I could ever have imagined, and was of course totally witty and charming and articulate, and then it was my turn to say something.

I remember thinking, “okay, I now have to open my mouth, so I just hope it’s not to throw up AND that I don’t make him look totally nuts for having invited me to do this.”

I had no idea what I was going to say, and I don’t actually remember anything I DID say (something about Lawrence Welk and Jell-O salad?), but the people in the room laughed, and after that I knew it was going to be okay.

That was an amazing day. I still don’t quite believe it actually happened.

Of course, the next day at the sublime Murder by the Book in Houston I actually *did* throw up—right before we started the gig there–but luckily it wasn’t in front of anyone. Lee especially.

Cornelia Read
Author of A Field of Darkness

My best moments this year were the moments that I spent at Bouchercon and at The Midwest Literary Festival, because I had so many e-mail relationships that came to fruition when I was able to meet those people: my editor, fellow writers, fellow bloggers, DorothyL friends. Knowing some people not only helps me feel like I’m not alone as a newcomer, but it gives me a sense that I am part of a wonderful industry. And then writing is that much less lonely.

Julia Buckley
Author of The Dark Backward

One day in March I opened the front door and there stood the UPS guy with a handcart loaded down with boxes from my publisher, Poisoned Pen Press. I cut open the boxes and there they were: copy after copy after copy of THE HEAT OF THE MOON. Until that moment, some part of me had persisted in believing that the whole sale-and-publication thing was an elaborate practical joke that some unknown enemy was staging. But that day, it became real.

Sandra Parshall
Author of The Heat of the Moon

Moments after I hit store number 500 on my Rusty Nail tour this summer, I drove up the street to a restaurant, bellied up to the bar, and ordered a shot of Jack Daniels. It was the single best drink I’ve ever had, and probably ever will have.

JA Konrath
Author of Bloody Mary, Whiskey Sour and Rusty Nail

My novel, 47 RULES OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE BANK ROBBERS, debuted this year. The moment I’d like to replay was when I was in the midst of a grueling 47 city tour to promote my book. Right when I was dog tired, I think between my third and fourth bookstore signing one day, I got emails from both a film company wanting to buy the rights to my book, and a big NY publisher wanting to do my next book. It felt like a Cinderella story.

Troy Cook
Author of 47 Rules For Highly Effective Bank Robbers

The highlight of my debut year was seeing my first reviews come in, and receiving kind words of encouragement from people who read a LOT of mysteries.

Bruce Cook
Author of Philippine Fever

May Day came out in March 2006, and here is the moment I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world: that first fan email, the absolute stranger from Massachusetts or England or Montana who says they loved your book so much that they just had to let you know and they’ve never contacted an author before but jeez was it a fun read.

Moments I couldn’t sell for a penny: every single signing I did at any Barnes & Noble. Humiliation writ large. I think I sold three books at one. The rest were all about me trying not to act like the chick with greasy hair that no one wants to dance with.

Jess Lourey
Author of May Day

For me the crucial moment was the one when I understood at last that if I listened to that small interior voice and wrote what I wanted to write in the way I wanted to write it, instead of following other people’s instructions, the work would be much better. I only wish I’d come to this realisation many years earlier!

Natasha Cooper
Author of Gagged and Bound

Natasha’s new website ( is coming soon.

My friend, a New Yorker, runs the big bookstore here… His sister hangs with the Hell’s Angels in California and he sent them my novels.

God forgive me, I didn’t know The Angels read. They loved the books and gave a blurb, which said:

“Read Bruen or die muttahfuckahs.”

Point being, you put the books out there, you just never know who they’ll reach.

Ken Bruen
Author of American Skin

What was the most important thing you learned?

I’m still learning, and the stuff I’ll carry with me are: don’t do booksignings unless invited or you have a built-in fan base; your time is much better spent giving presentations at libraries or other venues where you can sell your books afterward. Don’t blog (sorry, but it almost killed me). Send out review copies all over the world; it’s expensive but rewarding. Carry a “guest book” with you wherever you go so you can get the addresses and emails of people interested in your books. If you’re going to buy postcards advertising your book, invest in an address list of libraries; they’re the best audience for those. Don’t spend a lot of money on promo items unless they’re truly unique (I invest in Nut Goodies). Get involved in MWA and other writer’s organization; connecting with other writers is one of the great treats of the business.

And here’s something I JUST learned that has nothing to do with writing. My conservative college students don’t know Stephen Colbert is a liberal. Yes. Chew on the implications of that, and best of luck with your writing!

Jess Lourey, author of May Day
p.s. June Bug comes out March 2007.
p.s.s. Sandra Ruttan is a lost virgin and she rocks.

Jess tells me her website is down until mid-December, but will be back big, bionic and graphically amazing. The ‘lost virgin’ comment will be explained in a forthcoming interview…

I think the most important lesson I learned was that promotion is something you need to spend a LOT of time doing. Or you can’t be in the right place at the right time for a bit of luck to fall your way. If you want to know more about 47 Rules, the movie deal, or my tour, visit for more info.

Troy Cook
Author of 47 Rules For Highly Effective Bank Robbers

That novels are IT, for me. It’s bloody fucking hard, but when I write a novel, at least creatively I’m not responsible for anyone’s inadequacies but my own, and that’s a world of difference from Hollywood. The intimacy between author and reader is priceless. Your primary responsibility as an author is to tell your story to your readers in the most perfect way you’re capable of – and, staggeringly, publishing people actually GET and support that. It’s a miracle.

Alexandra Sokoloff
Author of The Harrowing

Two lessons, really. One: Stay calm, because things will inevitably go wrong occasionally, but that doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end. Two: Sad to say, there are nasty people in the world who enjoy trying to bring others down, and it’s best to be on guard against them.

On my web site I have a piece in the Writing section called “The Perils of Publication” in which I distilled the lessons of my first months as a published writer. I hope it will help somebody else avoid the mistakes I made.

My second book, DISTURBING THE DEAD, will be out from Poisoned Pen in March 2007. I know I’ll be just as thrilled to get my boxes of DTD as I was when the copies of THOTM arrived, but I hope the rest of the process will be smoother the second time around.

Sandra Parshall
Author of The Heat of the Moon

What did I learn? It’s just a book. Enjoy it and get back to work.

John McFetridge
Author of Dirty Sweet
Coming in 2007: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

My thanks to all who chimed in, knowing I’m in galley edit hell and didn’t have time to finish the original post I started for today.

My question to you is, what have been your moments, the ones that you wish you could harness and hold forever?

Sandra Ruttan
Author of Suspicious Circumstances
January 2007
On Life and Other Inconveniences

Brand Names and Cheap Knockoffs
October 12, 2006, 8:47 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

We’ve all heard the insults, the things you never want to read in a review of your book. Cardboard characters. I’ve seen it all before, nothing original here.

I got thinking about this yesterday when I stumbled across a column on stereotypes. Now, bear in mind this is written by a columnist, upon what seems to be a startling discovery:

It has come to my attention that a majority of the population believes that we, the truth-telling, straight-shooting, product-placing media, are partially responsible for the perpetuation of stereotypes. (Cue Sabrina gasping dramatically. A single tear runs down her cheek. “Desperado” plays softly in the background for the duration of this paragraph.) Upon hearing this bit of news, I made a vow to dedicate my life to delivering honesty.

Wow. Talk about nailing my stereotype of the oblivious journalist who actually needs to be reminded that they’re supposed to report the truth.

I rarely read columns. I find blogs more interesting, but the writer in me wanted to take a look at this one. I felt it was pretty thin. Talk to a few people the columnist has judged and labeled – thug, goth, geek – and then after talking to 1-3 people in a category, determine how accurately she assessed them.

In other words, an exercise in proving she doesn’t know how to read people. This isn’t really about stereotypes. It’s about snap judgments and whether or not you can look past your shallow assessment of a person based on how they carry themselves.

It got me thinking, though, because I remember an author talking about a review of their book a few years ago. The review said the book was filled with clichéd characters, like the prostitute with the heart of gold.

Taking what the columnist said about stereotypes, if you wrote about the hardened thug you’d be writing a stereotype. But if you write about the hooker who actually cares about people, you’ve got a cliché. How exactly do you avoid simply moving from one bad label to another?

Now, labels are something that have been on my mind lately. I never could figure out how to classify Suspicious Circumstances and even to this day every comment that comes back on it ranges from calling it a straight up thriller to psychological thriller, suspense novel, or procedural. I couldn’t pitch the book successfully because I couldn’t figure out what compartment it belonged in. I maintained that if anyone actually read it, it would get published, and that’s what happened, but in this cutthroat era of agents and publishers pressed for time authors need the thirty-second sound bites. Aspiring authors aren’t taking courses in grammar, they’re learning how to hone their elevator sales pitch. This is actually something I touched on in my panel at Bouchercon.

On the weekend, Sarah Weinman made a post about changing the way crime fiction is categorized, asking aloud if we would see the day when ‘A mystery novel is either category or single title’ instead of cozy, hardboiled, noir, etc. It’s a fascinating perspective that, if you haven’t already read, you should.

Part of me is instinctively for dropping the labels. But in thinking about doing away with the subgenre classifications, I can see why it likely won’t happen. What would happen is that everything coming in under the label of ‘mystery’ would get sorted. “Mushy-gushy” would go in one pile. “Down and dirty” in another. Eventually, terms like “romantic suspense” and “hardboiled” would take hold and become accepted as the industry standards, and we’d be right back to where we are.

Let’s face it. It’s a human tendency to categorize things. I rely on those labels to guide me to the fiction that I will enjoy. And as an author, submitting material to publishers, how will I know whether they want my ‘brand’ of fiction unless there is some specific classification system, such as hardboiled, cozy, noir, etc? And don’t tell me that it’s always possible to identify the type based on the book cover. Since it’s written by a guy, I could probably safely assume The Blonde isn’t chick lit, but you never know. As a rule, I don’t tend to thumb pages and read a bit before I buy a book either. I rely on word of mouth and back cover descriptions.

You read blurbs that start off saying, ‘A completely original voice’ and end with a comparison to Michael Connelly. No matter how much we try to avoid it, almost all of us fall victim to it sooner or later. Through word of mouth you hear a lot of comparisons. They may be lazy but we rely on them to summarize in a few words the style and substance of a book, sometimes to the author’s detriment. Just ask any Scottish author who’s been compared to Ian Rankin and found wanting instead of rated on their own merits.

I like Ian and I like Stuart too, thank you very much. To be honest, they have very different styles. They’re Scottish, they’re guys and they’re both older than me. But they write differently and thank God for that. Nothing duller than everyone trying to imitate someone else instead of being themselves.

Maybe what there needs to be is not a disbanding of the labels, but a mechanism that allows books to transcend the labels. Why can’t a book be a procedural thriller? I just read Rick Mofina’s Every Fear and I would say that definitely could be labeled as a procedural thriller. Rick’s cop and reporter are very different from my cop and reporter, and the case is completely different and unfolds hundreds of miles away, but we could both share that dual label. Would we have less appeal to thriller readers or would we entice both thriller readers and procedural junkies to give us a try? I would hope for the latter.

I’ll be honest. One of the things I’ve been worried about the most with Suspicious Circumstances is whether or not I can pass off the idea of an honest reporter. Face it. So many books and tv shows these days portray everyone in the media as corrupt, political, completely self-absorbed and willing to jeopardize an investigation in order to get a scoop. The prevalence of such stereotypical characters jeopardizes the believability of a protagonist that is considerably different.

It occurs to me that the problem is not necessarily if your character is a prostitute with a good heart, but if you rely on that cliché to establish the character instead of developing them in the story.

Similarly, maybe the problem with the labeling of books is not the subgenre categories, but relying on them to narrowly define and even limit what a book is. To be honest, every time my book has gone out, I’ve looked forward to hearing how the person will categorize it. Instead of having me tell them what it is, they read it and decide for themselves.

They’re interpreting the book on its own merits, instead of grading it against pre-established expectations, and I think that’s very cool.

Sandra Ruttan
Author of Suspicious Circumstances
January 2007
On Life and Other Inconveniences

Bouchercon: We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby
October 4, 2006, 8:30 am
Filed under: Bouchercon, Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

When Ken Bruen takes the stage with Alafair Burke, Laura Lippman, Cornelia Read and Zoe Sharp, you know your stomach muscles will ache by the time you leave the room.

The panel was called Ken Bruen and Four Kickass Writers and as Ken said right off the top, “I have a feeling I know whose ass will be kicked the most!”

Word was, Lee Child would have happily stepped in, but Ken was having too much fun. As he said himself, reading To The Power of Three, “You learn a lot about teenage girls and at my age you kind of like that.”

The entire panel was comprised of witty women who knew how to throw the lines out there. Ken was treading into dangerous territory when he asked why women write the better sex scenes. Alafair Burke said, “Write what you know.”

Alafair then explained, “I can’t write a lot of sex in my books because my dad reads them and he thinks I’m a virgin.”

Zoe pointed out the benefits of research. She maintained her role on the panel was to “lower the tone” and did a fantastic job of it too.

Laura Lippman said she doesn’t like writing sex scenes, but has a friend named Sujata Massey who loves them and looks forward to them.

Ken’s eyes lit up at that and he asked, “Is she here?”

“We shared a room all weekend,” Laura responded without missing a beat.

I have to say I’d be happy to have Ken kick my ass on a panel any time. The man is phenomenal.

But I must also admit that in general, the authors that really impressed me at this Bouchercon were the women.

I have photos on my blog but what I’m going to do here is recount some of my experiences with some of the wonderful women I met.

Cornelia Read is my mentor through the ITW. She brought me a gift I’m calling The Holy Grail, a silver cup that belonged to her grandmother and is part of a set. I’ve been given a piece of the family legacy.
Cornelia Sandra
Honestly, it’s just such a privilege to have a friend like Cornelia, someone I can share my fears and insecurities with, as well as sit on the floor in the back of a coat room and swap stories about childhood fantasies with, that I already felt blessed to know her. Her gift put a lump in my throat.

Denise Mina is sensational. It was such a treat to sit with her in the bar and hang out. She has to be one of the funniest people I’ve met – on her panel about villains she was asked if there were acts of villainy in her past and she replied, “The 80s were a crime fashion-wise.” Denise lives in Glasgow, a city I’ve spent some time in and happen to think is beautiful and if you haven’t read her work yet, what’s wrong with you? Get to it! She was up against incredible authors such as Mark Billingham and Simon Kernick, amongst others, and won the Barry for best British novel.
Denise Sandra
But the author I was most nervous about meeting was Laura Lippman. I’ve known Laura in an online/email capacity for almost a year now. She’s one of those people with a brain I want to dissect. I know that sounds weird, but her approach to her books fascinates me and there are good reasons she’s won pretty much every award out there. She’s amazing. One of my favourite “passing moments” of the whole convention was standing outside, talking to Mark Billingham and Laura on Saturday night.

Of all the people in this business, I’ve actually known Val McDermid longer than anyone. Just getting a chance to catch up with Val – even in passing at a convention – is a treat and reason enough right there to go, and when it comes to the books Val really kicks ass. She’s one of the authors I’ll just block off two days for when a new book comes out. It isn’t just that I’m a slow reader – it’s that great books should be approached like great sex – something to be savoured and enjoyed.

There were two other ladies I was thrilled to meet. One was Julia Buckley. The other, Anne Frasier. Julia has a laugh that’s contagious and a sharp wit and a big heart. She is a treasure. Anne is someone I’ve connected with online and is also one of the Killer Year mentors, and she’s the kind of person you want to have a quiet dinner with. Like me, she’s at her best one on one.

Gayle Lynds is delightful. And so is Louise Ure. And Jan Burke, and fellow Canadian Alex Brett. I wanted to corner all of them and have them to myself for long chats, but everyone who’s been to Bouchercon knows how hard it is to do that! Impossible, really.

There were a lot of things I could have referenced in this post. Bill already did an amazing job yesterday, and I didn’t want to cover the same ground although I share his feelings about the experience.

I mentioned on my own blog that Marcus had asked me what my highlight of the weekend was and I wasn’t sure if it was Denise Mina or Ken Bruen. Both would be worthy highlights, but as I took more time to process the experience of Bouchercon, I realized my highlights were less specific.

This may sound a bit hypocritical, because I’ve maintained in the past that for me, men have been my favourite writers, but in processing why that was I realized that the reason was just that I had a harder time finding the women who wrote in the style I love – a spectrum of the genre that men tend to excel in.

Truth is, women write across a broader spectrum, so you have to know who’s writing romantic suspense, chick lit, pseudo shopping therapy novels etc. to steer clear of them if that isn’t your thing. With men, I could pick up the books and have a high satisfaction rate. With women, it took longer to find the authors that got me excited.

But it seems to me, when a panel with four female authors at 10:30 on a Sunday morning is packed with people, we’re seeing things change. We’re working towards the days when women are openly praised as masters of the genre.

And I have to say Zoe Sharp, Laura Lippman, Alafair Burke, Cornelia Read, Denise Mina and Val McDermid deserve to be counted amongst the best writers in this business.

I really wanted a woman to mentor me. While I agree with Bill that being at Bouchercon I was with my “tribe” I do think that women face different challenges in this business than men do, and other than my “siblings” JB Thompson and JT Ellison, I’ve found it harder to connect with female writers.

Bouchercon changed that. I don’t just feel I have a long list of big brothers, including Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride and all the Killer Year boys, who look out for me. I have some big sisters too, and that’s very cool. My highlights? Seeing the women show why they’re every bit as great as the men, and feeling like I’d become part of the family.

Now, it’s been a few days, and hundreds of people are posting about Bouchercon. This is my sixth post, and I haven’t scratched the surface. I haven’t even mentioned half of the people I’ve met, but I have seen some of the comments about me. I’ve been referred to as a potential alternate source of fuel and as something that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. I’ve also been called an evil leprechaun but consider the source. Some guy from Dundee, of all places. What does he know?

The thing about conferences is that you mentally prepare yourself going in. You turn on the social charm and prepare for a lack of sleep, a poor diet and a lot of alcohol consumption. You expect to have a sore throat by Sunday morning if you’re lucky – Saturday morning is entirely feasible.

You just push everything out and live the experience until you get home and then you spend a few days teary-eyed because you’re so overwhelmed and you finally stop to wonder if you looked like an idiot when you went and got a stool so you could kiss Lee Child.

And what lingers most is the amazing spirit of generosity in this community. I don’t know why anyone would want to write anything else – the most amazing people in the world are reading and writing crime, and they support the new talent coming in.

One big family that I am honoured to be a part of.

Now if I could just get Tribe to stop snapping my bra strap…

Sandra Ruttan
Author of Suspicious Circumstances
January 2007
On Life and Other Inconveniences

** All pictures are posted on my blog today, along with numerous other photos that have been posted over the past few days.
The Wee Naughty Scot
We (think we) Can Kick Your Ass John Connolly
A Wee Wobbly at Bouchercon
Drinking At Bouchercon 101
On the first official day of Bouchercon
Bouchercon Orientation

Get ready…
September 23, 2006, 11:08 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

It’s almost Monday, and we’ll be back.

With some very big news.

46 hours and counting…

An Important Message
September 8, 2006, 9:05 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

killer year vacation

Yes, there’s been general insanity in the Killer Year circles lately. A wedding, a baby. A lot of us are on deadlines at the moment, or recovering from deadlines.

There’s also exciting news. You can find Killer Year founding member JT Ellison in the debut issue of Mouth Full of Bullets. And JT will also be in the next issue of Spinetingler Magazine, which will be out September 15.

So, don’t worry. We’re taking a breather, but we’ll be back with a new format for the blog, the most exciting news about Killer Year and you’ll still find some of us on our own blogs until then.